Flu cases at five

Published 1:14 pm Monday, May 4, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

State health officials said Saturday that Alabama has one confirmed case of swine flu and four probable cases, and is testing dozens more.
And although a Huntsville area school system has closed its doors because of fears surrounding suspected swine flu cases, Brewton City and Escambia County School Systems aren’t planning on take such drastic measures.
Baker said suspected exposure to the virus has not been seen locally but could make a difference in action taken by officials with the system.
Escambia County School officials are also taking a wait and see stance on the possibility of a flu outbreak in the state.
Escambia County Assistant Superintendent Randall Little said the system is keeping updated on information being passed down by officials at the Alabama Department of Education as well as the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Little said state health and education officials have said the strain of the virus that has caused one Alabama school to close is far less severe than a normal viral strain.
Area physicians are also keeping a close eye on the situation and keeping informed with constant updates from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Dr. Karen Flanagan said she has not treated any patients with symptoms related to any flu virus.
Although some physicians have taken cultures to determine if patients are infected with the flu virus, none of those samples has proven positive, Flanagan said.
State health officer Dr. Donald Williamson said Friday every person is responsible for their own well being during this time of concern.
Williamson said four probable cases of swine flu have been detected in Alabama, three in Madison and one in Montgomery.
In light of information learned through the processing of samples and data received from across the country, ADPH officials have created more awareness for the need of prevention and protection.
Williamson said although much concern has risen over the swine flu outbreak, the seriousness of the virus should be carefully considered.
Williamson said approximately 500 deaths occur each year in Alabama due to seasonal influenza illnesses.
Symptoms for swine flu are similar to seasonal flu symptoms. Those symptoms include fever of over 100 or 101 in adults; profound muscle aches and fatigue as well as a cough and stuffy nose.
The public is urged to protect themselves from the possible exposure to the virus by staying home if you are ill. To prevent spreading or contract the virus, steps to take include washing hands often, coughing into sleeves, maintaining a three to six foot distance from others who are ill and to keep hands away from nose, eyes and mouth to avoid infection.